Everything old has come back to the new. It is inevitable that if it is timeless, then it will return, and sometimes with a vengeance. Freakshows once thought of as a dead performance art now have feature shows on cable television. Rockabilly was thought to have died with Buddy Holly has morphed into various sub-styles of psychobilly, gothabilly, and cowpunk. Several decades ago our grandparents hovered around the radio to listen to tales woven through a live studio complete with sound effects. Families waited to hear the latest trouble that Little Orphan Annie would get herself into while only the Shadow knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men.
Fast-forward to the current time. Eric D. Cota has resurrected the old time radio dramas into the modern age with the release of two audio collections via CD, Sudden Chillers Audio Exposure Vol. 1 and Sudden Chillers Audio Exposure Vol. 2. All stories are original horror shorts as told by the author alongside of sound effects and soundtrack. With the help of new digital audio recording and editing, Cota has singlehandedly given the storytelling community a shot in the ass with his brand of audio horror tales.
Cota offers the following advice while listening:
“To get the most out of your listening enjoyment, this should be played in the dark with headphones and should be done so alone, as these experiences are personal and different for each individual. Crank up the volume for maximum effect!! Of course it can be played for a group, but follow the simple instructions: Keep it dark, keep it loud, and keep it gruesome!!!”
Introduced and hosted between stories by the spectral “Chiller”, a deep voice spoken through a voice changer, Volume 1 has three short stories with mixed in fill messages by the old Chiller itself. “Lewiston Avenue” warns listeners of the danger of walking home past cemeteries; “Whispers of Reality” (told in a whisper, who knew?) offers a paranoid warning of being alone in the dark and “Final Grade” paints a visual image of the most sullen of funerals. The stories are told in Cota’s mellow and matter of fact normal voice as to not distract the listener from the focus of the stories, but sprinkles in the occasional sound effects of creaking doors, footsteps, and howling winds where appropriate for the stories. Soft piano arrangements in minor keys tucked nicely behind the verbiage add suspense to the story much like the crescendo soundtracks in horror movies.
Volume 2 is my favorite of the collection as Cota hones his story telling skills and tweaks the mastering of the soundboard for an even more professional sound than the first (unless your ear is trained, you will never notice). His more natural sounding voice is subtle difference from the first volume, but offers a better experience with less distraction to the listener’s concentration on the story. Again, as with Vol 1, it is hosted by the timeless old Chiller itself and carries four short tales. “Reflections of a Corpse”, “Dog”, “Faces in Madness” and “Soup”. While the content ranges from a new employee on his first night in a funeral home, a cadaverous canine that returns to seek revenge from beyond the grave, to a nervous host on his first date, I personally prefer the tale “Dog” as my favorite. Not liking stories about harm to animals, I didn’t think that I would much care about a lovable mutt that was murdered, but they way that Cota develops the spiel does not distant the reader but rather draws them into the plot and will have them rooting for more terror! Side note: In my past life I was in the Fire Department and served my time on the fire truck as well as the ambulance. Many a strange happening would occur during a shift and it was a contest between crews of who had the oddest shift. Well, in “Dog”, Cota has a way to unfold the story that reminded me of sitting around and telling the other crew about our crazy night. For a moment, I got sucked in and forgot that it was only Cota’s story, as I reminded myself “It’s only made up, it’s only made up.”
Here is what I noticed about Cota; when I critique writing, I pick apart the plot, characters (and all traits given to), setting, moods, choice of words, and even sentence structure. The thing that impresses me most (outside of his ability to pull this whole thing off) is his sentence structure and the overall way that he builds the story with varying descriptive narratives, sentence length, and even lack of detail. Such as in the story “Final Grade” where it is not what he says, but rather what he does not say! I have seen amateur writers lack quantity as well as over-write, which is a common problem. This is not something that I heard in Cota’s writings and it made for an easy listen.
Each CD clocks in around roughly more or less than 30 minutes. (25:12 for Vol 1 and 35:12 for Vol 2) The only thing that I could criticize about the collection is that I wish it were longer. That being said, it is more of a compliment than a criticism since the story telling is so good, and the execution is so well done, that I want more. (Volume 3? Eric I’m looking in your direction!)
Cota has set the price for the collection at a very generous low. In the past I have encountered similar work that the artist charged far more by the wayside and received much less of a product. $3.99 for the first volume and $4.99 for the second. He also offers a combo pack for $6.99. (All prices exclude standard or expedited shipping). Cota could be charging more for this collection, but I suggest you go and buy it before he realizes it!
Overall, this is the perfect soundtrack to a Halloween party or when you are alone and in the mood to dim the lights and get creeped the hell out. A word of warning, the content of the collection is not suitable for young listeners due to the rare and seldom four letter word (less than three throughout) and of course for subject matter. That being said, don’t miss the chance to get on this train and enjoy this haunting audio experience. If you are the type that likes to curl up to the occasional scare, may I suggest that you wait for the dark storm, kill the lights, and break out your headstones…er, headphones, and put on these CDs.
I’m very proud of this collection as it takes skills, thought, time, and a whole lot of balls to pull off the project that Cota has made! I appreciate anyone who has put creative effort and time into a project, then put said project out for the entire world to judge/enjoy. As many people who follow my work and my reviews know, I will promote the hell out of any good indie horror, and Eric Cota’s Sudden Chiller Audio Exposure collection will fall into that category.
4 ½ / 5 Chills up and down my spine!
For more imformation or to purchase Eric Cota’s Sudden Chillers, go to his website:
Or like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/SuddenChillers
and Twitter page @suddenchillers